Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lessons Learned (3): Inspiration vs. Someone Wants to Kill Me

[Image: ploomy.com]

INSPIRATION
The following is an email I received a couple of weeks ago. It is similar to dozens of other emails I get every month from people from all over the world and from every walk of life. I treasure these emails because they demonstrate the strength and depth of the simple living movement. They are heartfelt, insightful, emotional, and, for me, inspirational. I am a different person today because of these emails. Seriously.
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from XXX XXXXX
to: radicalsimplicity@gmail.com
date: Mon, May 11, 2009 at 1:22 AM
subject: your blog... and life
mailed-by: gmail.com
signed-by: gmail.com

I have spent the last hour pouring over your blog, reading about the amazing changes you have made in your life, and found myself in tears for most of it. I’m not a lawyer so I have never experienced that type of lifestyle, but I do understand the desire to change your life, make things different. A couple of years ago I was laid off from my job, the best thing to ever happen to me. I spent the next 6 months free of any commitments and spent the time hiking and running and just about anything I wanted to try. It was heaven.

Now things are back to the way they were before- have a job I like but don’t love; debt that is crippling me; and it seems my passion for life has diminished. The past month I have been going over everything in my head, wishing I could get back to that life, and overwhelmed with regret. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do to change things, but reading your blog has given me hope for the first time in a long time. Thank you.

I see that you are on the road – relish that freedom and think often of how far you have come. You have done something that not many have the guts to do. Best wishes to you your life travels.

XXX
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SOMEONE WANTS TO KILL ME
The following is a string of messages sent to my Twitter account towards the beginning of my bike trip, most likely in response to my “On Sexism: Women Should Know Their Place” blog post. They were sent in conjunction with blog comments stating that (1) they now knew what my bike looked like; (2) they knew exactly where I was because they could access my Twitter and Facebook status and photo updates; and (3) they would actively do their best to kill me. I sent this person a very polite message telling them that I would be very much willing to chat with them to try and understand their point of view. Twice. They have yet to respond.

I debated whether to do a follow-up blog post focused on freedom of speech. I envisioned a string of links to all sorts of raunchy mainstream video clips but then I realized that just wasn't necessary. I think that when you resort to threats of violence you have already lost the argument. I also genuinely feel bad for this person. It is likely someone who has personal experience with domestic violence and has a great deal of misplaced anger.

That being said, if anything happens to me on this trip you all know where any investigation should start.
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ihopeyougethit@radicaljack I hope you get mowed down by a semi. in the rain.2:57 PM May 7th from web

ihopeyougethit@radicaljack then you won't be able to promote violence against women any longer, and the world will be a safer place.2:58 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack do the people that have been so helpful to you on your journey know that you promote and encourage domestic violence?3:00 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack Here's a joke for you- "once this wealthy lawyer went on a bike tour of the US after selling his townhouse."3:01 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack "This young man was a fan of violence against women and getting lots of attention on the internet."3:02 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack "the he was hit by a semi and the world was a much better place."3:03 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack you're fucking disgusting.3:04 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack I hope you're laughing your ass of at all the great "jokes" I just made. If not, you must have no sense of humor!3:26 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack I'm so funny, just like Chris Rock! Ha ha ha!3:28 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack- here's another great "joke", just like those great "jokes" you posted about beating women- I know what your bike looks like!3:30 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack And I know where you are! Hilarious, right?3:30 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack I'm so funny I can't even stand it! excuse me while I go email the password to this twitter account to all my friends3:32 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack so they can harrass your dumb ass too! and we can keep you laughing all the way across the country!3:33 PM May 7th from web


ihopeyougethit@radicaljack just don't laugh so hard you fall off your bike and get hit! That would be such a shame- NOT! LOL! God I'm "funny"!3:34 PM May 7th from web

33 comments:

Dani said...

wow, what an idiot. Someone has way too much time on their hands. Anyways, I am enjoying reading about your bike trip. Thanks for keeping everyone updated.

microwave said...

Hire Dwight as your bodyguard please. And/or Dwight's son.

But for real, I think you have the right attitude here. For every stinker there's probably 100 people rooting for you. I honestly don't know what I'd have done in this situation. Probably ignored the stinker. (I love that old-timey word, btw.) Or, wait, no...I'd have called Dwight. :)

I think it's brave of you and speaks volumes about your character that you chose to confront this person by offering politely to discuss whatever issues he/she clearly has. Kill 'em not with violence, but with kindness...and logic!

Todd said...

Jack,

I know you won't let an idiot like that rob you of your personal freedom.

Keep riding, keep living, keep experiencing life.

Thanks for sharing your journey.

Out of you readers, 99.9998% of us are normal.

Debbi said...

Disturbing. My inclination would be to ignore this person, who clearly has some kind of agenda or mental problem. I doubt that you could have a meaningful dialogue with them, though your attempts to do so are laudable.

I wonder how willing this person would be to threaten and insult you face-to-face? Not so willing, I'd bet.

Fonk said...

Wow, what a loser... Yeah, I'd echo the sentiment to just ignore her. In fact, if there's a way to block someone from posting to your account on Twitter, I'd definitely block her. No need to waste your time w/ that hateful garbage.

Rebecca Welch said...

Some people's children...shakes head.

Leah said...

I don't really see how murder is a useful tool for stopping violence... doesn't that seem like escalating the conflict...?

As a empowered, sexually fulfilled, strong, employed blahblahblah woman who enjoys political incorrectness of all kinds, I applaud your honesty and willingness to discuss tough topics. You rock.

Why couldn't Helen Keller drive?
Because she was a woman.

-Jen- said...

I don't agree AT ALL with how your twitter harasser is trying to make her point, but I think she does have a valid perspective that you should consider. The post where you made jokes about domestic violence wasn't a great way to make your point either. There is no connection with some of your past blog posts that touch on womanizing and domestic violence, yet every single one of the jokes you posted dealt with domestic violence. There is a great need in this culture to increase sensitivity, especially among men, about domestic violence. It is amazingly prevalent and a great danger to women. Your presentation of casual jokes about it in your past post was insensitive and certainly not necessary for you to make your point about sexism. Your twitter harasser is now doing the same thing, making inappropriate jokes that don't directly make the point she is trying to get across.

MarylandMom said...

It is very clear that this person is extremely angry, and probably along the way got shafted in some manner. When your own life isn't up to par, sometimes it's more immediately satisfying to be a coward and anonymously spew hate at someone else. S/he is probably really enjoying the attention because it means the focus is off their own (perceived) failings. It's very sad and hopefully they will find some personal peace. I'd take the post down. It just fuels their ego. Keep moving forward, Jack. We are (all but one of us, anyway) rooting for your success!

Anonymous said...

The name attached is Maryna Anderson... http://twitter.com/ihopeyougethit/status/1731739065
though probably fake.

Jack said...

@Dani,

Thanks. You are probably right.

@Microwave,

I guess I could always give Dwight a call. And I would not normally want to give someone like this attention, but it is an aspect of blogging that I wanted to highlight in this Lessons Learned series.

@Todd,

Thanks man. Appreciate it.

Jack said...

@Debbi,

See my response to Microwave above. Only bringing this up in the context of the Lessons Learned series. Would not normally even focus on this otherwise.

@Fonk,

I think if this continues to be an issue that's the right thing to do.

@Rebecca,

No kidding

Jack said...

@Leah,

Totally dig your comment. We would probably get along just fine.

@Jen,

Let's clarify something. All I did in that post was cut and paste crude jokes from the Comedy Central and Family Guy websites in the context of an open conversation about sexism, NOT ALL of which had to do with domestic violence. This person has actively threatened my life. In what planet would anyone seek to equate the two?

Re: a 'valid' perspective, if this person had presented a thoughtful argument about why the post was inappropriate we wouldn't be having this conversation. If you read through the comments to that post there were plenty of other people who presented intelligent and valid crtiques of the post that I absolutely loved.

Sounds to me like someone can't string together a coherent sentence and is therefore taking the coward's way out by threatening violence and death on a total stranger. I'd like to see them send similar messages to Seth Macfarlane (creator of Family Guy), Lisa Lampanelli, Chris Rock and everyone else cited in that post. And I bet you that they haven't. I'll let you figure out why.

@MarylandMom,

Thanks for the comment. See my response to Jen above. I rather like your analysis in the first part of your email. You are probably on to something.

Cage Free Family said...

Hey Jack,
Both our cell phones are back to working now. The 963 number is best though.

Don't worry... if you're blog is like mine it's just one of your demented family members leaving you sick comments ;-)

Seriously though, don't give away your energy to a person so obviously unconscious.

xo

microwave said...

This was pretty interesting. Came across it in a local DC paper: Who Can Make Rape Joke?

lvnv4me said...

My money is on "semi-driver" WAY too many references to, "getting hit by a semi" to be a coincidence.

Unfortunately the world can be a cold, cruel place too.

Hang in there and keep looking for the good stuff!

sara said...

Jeeze...I'm sorry to hear that.

As a female reader of your blog, I'd like to state that I have never read anything that i've found remotely depreciating. And hate this feminism/antifeminism crap i see so much in our moder society. A true feminist should be volunteering at womens shelters, donating money and time to help the women in countries where females really are second class.

But hate posts on twitter....come on.

Anonymous said...

I am saddened by the person who wrote those Tweets. However, you obviously are becoming aware of the various personalities of the people of the this great Country of ours - the good, the bad, the indifferent, the uninformed, the uneducated, the brilliant, the intolerant, the helpful, the wonderful people who are going out of their ways to help you on this journey.

Stay safe! Trust! and Keep your eyes open.

JB
(long time reader, less often commentator)

Tara said...

I'm sorry you feel threatened Jack. But surely you aren't so dense that you don't see the paralell between your jokes about women getting beat and this persons jokes about you getting smooshed? Obviously this person isn't going to track you down and run you over anymore than you were going to track women down and beat them when you posted your jokes, so why are you allowed to be upset and we aren't supposed to be?

Jack said...

@Anonymous,

Yeah, saw that, but pretty sure it is fake.

@Cage Free,

It's good to hear from you guys. Will give you a call later today if I can. And thanks.

@Microwave,

That's a pretty interesting article. But I guess that when you are dealing with psychos, no amount of reason is really enough...

Jack said...

@lunv4me,

Thanks for the sentiment. But who know, might as well be a member of the Michigan Militia at this point.

@sara,

Thanks for the support. Yeah, that's pretty sad. As I said above, sounds like someone can't make a coherent argument and is acting like a 5 year old.

@JB,

That's a very good point and it was the focus of the blog post in the first place. The tweet psycho is an absolute exception whereas the first part of the post is the norm. But it is a lesson learned: people come from all sorts of view points and somewhere in there are the tweet pyschos. Just goes with the territory.

Linda said...

Why did Maryna bother with making up her own "jokes" when there's plenty of hilarious lawyer ones everywhere? Like this one:

'A man died and was taken to his place of eternal torment by the devil.
As he passed sulfurous pits and shrieking sinners, he saw a man he recognized as a lawyer making love to a beautiful woman.
"That's not fair," he complained. "I face torment for all eternity, and that lawyer gets to spend it making love to a beautiful woman."
"Shut up!" barked the devil, jabbing the man with his pitchfork. "Who are you to question her punishment?"'

There's lots of them, so keep your so called sexist comments to a minimum, or else... :)

Take care, hope you're ok.

m said...

Tara,

I must disagree with your premise that equates personal death threats with humor.

You said, “Obviously this person isn’t going to track you down and run you over any more than you were going to track women down and beat them when you posted your jokes.”

First off, none of the jokes Jack posted were “his.” They were clips from various comedians and Family Guy if I remember correctly. I mean, the guy is a lawyer, for God’s sake. (LOL!)

Hmm. That extremely lame lawyer jab actually underlines my greater point in that those jokes that he posted (i.e. jokes that play on gender, race, class, occupation and other such non-politically correct topics) don’t usually target an individual directly, unless that person is somehow representative of a greater movement. Now, from what I know of this chap Jack, he certainly doesn’t represent some pro-beating-of-women movement. In fact, if you reread the post that probably spawned this Twitter twat’s comments, he never once condoned the beating of women, or anyone for that matter.

Moreover, as a part-time humorist myself (at least in my mind) who is not against a controversial joke or two, I think if non-politically correct humor is done well, it actually points out the stupidity of things like sexism, racism, classism, etc.

The Twitter-er didn't do that. All the Twit did was make a personal threat. I get that humor is subjective and all, but if that’s in any way, shape or form funny to anyone, then threats to kill puppies should also induce guffaws. “I’m going to kill puppies! I don’t like how they bark!” Hilarious, right?

Now, if the Twatter had used a little bit of logic before posting (wild thought, I know), I believe she (or he) would have discovered a much better way to make her point.

A word of advice: Trying to prove a point through threats (however benign) and/or really, really bad jokes in a forum that allows only 140 characters probably isn’t the most effective method of debate. I don’t know, maybe an email or an essay with a rational argument would’ve worked better, especially since Jack extended the metaphorical olive branch.

Then again, I don’t think killing puppies is funny, so perhaps I'm wrong.

Jack said...

@Tara,

There are so many things wrong with your comment I'm not even sure where to begin.

“I'm sorry you feel threatened Jack. But surely you aren't so dense that you don't see the paralell between your jokes about women getting beat and this persons jokes about you getting smooshed? Obviously this person isn't going to track you down and run you over anymore than you were going to track women down and beat them when you posted your jokes, so why are you allowed to be upset and we aren't supposed to be?”
FIRST, you are assuming, without any justification, that this person is harmless. Any reasonable person reading the Twitter messages (including the blog comments which were not published) would consider this person to be unstable and more than just a little psycho.

SECOND, your argument is inherently contradictory. If (a) you truly feel that this person is “obviously” not dangerous, and (b) you truly feel that my Comedy Central and Family Guy jokes don't suggest a propensity on my part to want to track down women in order to beat them, then why are YOU upset in the first place? I think your own question irreparably damages your position at the outset.

THIRD, attacking my intelligence is a bit ironic given your argument. For some unbelievably indefensible reason you seem to have ignored the obvious: there is NO parallel between bad jokes borrowed from third parties on the web (in this case Comedy Central and Family Guy) and a direct threat on someone's life. To see any parallel is ludicrous and laughable.

There would only be a parallel if, for example, I had sent you, Tara, a set of emails/Twitter messages, etc...explaining that (1) I know what cabin you live in; (2) I know which strip clubs you work at; (3) I know plenty of people all over Alaska that want you dead; (4) I will make sure that I will find you so that I can kill you; (5) and “oh...isn't that funny??.”

Here are some perverse examples, using your own logic:

-Being afraid that an ax murderer was after me because I just saw a Friday the 13th sequel.
-Hiding in my closet and covering my crotch after watching a documentary on Lorraine Bobbitt
-Being afraid that every carton of milk in my refrigerator actually has horse sperm ala Stewey Griffin Family Guy clip.

Tara, if you disagree with me feel free to express yourself. Kill me with reason. Attack me with legitimate, forceful commentary. But I have to be honest...given some of your previous comments on this blog being reasonable is not something you know much about. Maybe you should stick to stripping and related activities. That's definitely something you seem to be quite good at.

@Linda,

Just hilarious! Keep them coming.

@M,

See my response to Tara above. I think there is a lot of overlap here.

carrotquinn said...

Wow- the way you respond to the comments that challenge you is really intense. I wonder how many didn't get published?

Jack said...

@Carottquinn,

If you are referring to my response to Tara then I would love to hear how you would have responded to a person who has called you "dense" and has requested that I "get the fuck over yourself." Maybe you are confusing "intense" with analytical.

On the other hand, if you review my comments in response to others who disagree with me in a reasonable, rational way (i.e., less use of the word "fuck" and the like) you will find that I am less "intense" (analytical?). But I somehow find that to be fair.

As for how many comments don't get published, a regular reader of this blog would know that I publish any and all comments critical of the blog so long as they add to the conversation. One only read the "On Sexism" and the "Let's Start a Revolution" blog posts to know that I love challenging conversation. If I didn't Tara's comments would not have been published in the first place.

-Jen- said...

Jack,

Just wanted to follow-up after seeing your response. I should have emphasized more that I definitely wasn't trying to equate your actions with hers, because I think the death threats are obviously inappropriate, and probably criminal. I thought there were enough comments highlighting that side, so I was focusing on trying to find something of meaning in what she was saying. Her tactics probably don't deserve translating, though, so maybe that wasn't worth my time or yours. I was just trying to see if there was something of value you could take away if possible.

Jack said...

@Jen,

I sort of sensed that about your original comment. And this is why I love readers like you. You are intent on looking at issues in a critical, rational way. If an argument is not being explored you will highlight it. If I am off base you will call me out on it. If you disagree you will let me know. Don't ever stop commenting. We need more Jens on this blog and in the world at large. Thank you.

carrotquinn said...

No Jack. You lost all credibility as a thoughtful, rational person the day you wrote the words "I would never hit a woman, but I would shake the shit out of her" on your blog. And then, to follow that up, when Tara has the guts to challenge your reasoning you tell her that "maybe you should stick to stripping, because that's something you're good at." If that's your true nature, so be it, but don't expect us to think that you're a decent human being anymore. Now you've dug yourself a hole, and you're trying to use your lawyerly arguing to get yourself out of it- but honestly, you're not very good at it. No Jack. Just No.

Jack said...

@Carrotquinn,

"No Jack. You lost all credibility as a thoughtful, rational person the day you wrote the words "I would never hit a woman, but I would shake the shit out of her" on your blog. And then, to follow that up, when Tara has the guts to challenge your reasoning you tell her that "maybe you should stick to stripping, because that's something you're good at."

Talk about losing your credibility. With respect to the first quote, you should probably have spent less time riding box cars and more time reading my blog just a little closer. I never wrote that. That's a quote by Chris Rock from one of his most famous stand-up specials.

With respect to the second quote, let's just say that I meant every word. Anyone, (Tara included), who employs profanity-laded venom to lash out at people they disagree with have absolutely NO guts whatsoever. They are cowards of the highest order.

“If that's your true nature, so be it, but don't expect us to think that you're a decent human being anymore. Now you've dug yourself a hole, and you're trying to use your lawyerly arguing to get yourself out of it- but honestly, you're not very good at it. No Jack. Just No.”

Me thinks you are confusing “lawyerly arguing” with reason. You should try it some time. It does a body good.

Let me put it this way. I challenge you to come right out and declare that threatening someone in the way that this “ihopeyougethit” person has via Twitter and on this blog is somehow justified. Seriously. I dare you.

Alternatively, I challenge you to answer my four-part critique of Tara's comment in which she said: “But surely you aren't so dense that you don't see the paralell between your jokes about women getting beat and this persons jokes about you getting smooshed?” She clearly is too busy spouting expletives and insults to answer the merits of my argument.

Tara said...

Oh, Jack. I would start by explaining how many things are wrong with your comment, but I don't have to start with underhanded premise about the other person being wrong.

About your SECOND. Yes, that is the point. I don't contradict myself. Quite simply, by your own standards, if women shouldn't be offended, threatened, or upset by your violent threats framed as jokes, then niether should you be when the same humor is directed at you. Obviously, I was offended and so it follows that I think you should be too. You are a smart dude with a fancy law degree, I'm sure you understood that.

I'm sorry you think its reasonable to equate what you call my lack of reason with my sexuality. The idea that the reason and sexuality are incompatable in women is really old and gross, and I must advise you to go instantly to the nearest strip club and purchase several champagne rooms to set yourself straight.

Linda said...

Tara has a point: reducing women to their sexuality (stripper or not) is both "old and gross", so I suggest you take her advice about the stripclub+champagne. Atonement isn't always ascetic...

However, I don't agree with the thought that the jokes you published "equals" personal threats. If Maryna wanted to follow the "eye for an eye" principle, I think she should've published sexist jokes about men in general (since your jokes wasn't aimed at a specific person), or given you a proper feminist lecture (that's always fun, by the way!).

Personal threats is NOT funny. Ever.

Jack said...

@Tara,

First off, I commend you for your comment. This is the first time in recent memory that you have chosen to present a coherent, legitimate point of view. I honestly hope this continues.

“I don't contradict myself. Quite simply, by your own standards, if women shouldn't be offended, threatened, or upset by your violent threats framed as jokes, then niether should you be when the same humor is directed at you.”

I understand what you are saying but I’m afraid this is not even one of those instances where we can agree to disagree. You are just plain wrong. As I mentioned in my previous comment, there is just no way to equate my copy-and-paste joke job with what “ihopeyougethit” has done. In addition, once again, you have inserted an irreconcilable contradiction in your argument. If you truly feel that these jokes constitute “violent threats” against you personally (something that, quite frankly, is rather outrageous) then why don’t you consider the “humor” spewed by this Twitter maniac “violent threats” in the first place?

Maybe we can meet in an awkward middle. I challenge you to denounce what “ihopeyougethit” has done via Twitter and on this blog because his/her messages constitute “violent threats.” What do you think?

I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t choose to address my other points. But I’m glad you at least chose to respond in a reasonable way.

“I'm sorry you think its reasonable to equate what you call my lack of reason with my sexuality. The idea that the reason and sexuality are incompatable in women is really old and gross, and I must advise you to go instantly to the nearest strip club and purchase several champagne rooms to set yourself straight.”

Let me clarify. In NO WAY did I intend to suggest that reason and sexuality are incompatible and if you felt that was the case I clearly misspoke (mistyped?) and I absolutely apologize. I was merely stating, in the most dismissive way possible, that you should go and live your life and stop commenting on this blog because you seem (up until this comment, at least) incapable of communicating in a reasonable, rational way.

@Linda,

See my response to Tara above.
I definitely dig the rest of your analysis. It flushes out the “parallel” issue much better than I ever did.